THE SCOOP | Mirvish: Healthy Audience Numbers Bode Well For Toronto’s Live Theatre Scene

By Anya Wassenberg on August 18, 2022

Lorna Courtney as Juliet and company in & Juliet (Photo: Matthew Murphy)
Lorna Courtney as Juliet and company in & Juliet (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

Are Toronto theatre audiences ready to come back to in-person events in full force? From the numbers that Mirvish live productions have racked up over the last few months, it would seem the answer is yes.

After 25 months of pandemic uncertainty, Mirvish has released a statement regarding some of their recent box office numbers.

“We’ve just ended an eight-week pre-Broadway engagement of & Juliet at the 2,000-seat Princess of Wales Theatre,” said David Mirvish in a media release. “It was an enormous success, playing to more than 90% capacity and selling out its final three weeks. Truthfully, we could not keep up with demand for tickets. Even more heartening, those lucky enough to get tickets had such a joyous experience, they almost blew the roof off the theatre with their shouts, whistles, foot stomping and almost never-ending applause.”

He notes that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a Canadian premiere run, has been playing at 100% capacity since it began its run on May 31.

“As we all know, the COVID pandemic changed everything in our world,” he continues. “In Ontario, theatres were shuttered for 17 consecutive months. Then we began very tentatively with the sound-and-light theatrical installation Blindness, which played to only 50 people per showing beginning September 2021. By late October it looked like we could welcome back more audience members, and we mounted a series of shows, only to have to close them because of the Omicron variant.”

The Omicron variant, in particular, caused a series of cancellations, including the permanent closing of the Canadian hit Come From Away.

In early April, theatres were able to reopen, and Mirvish began with smaller productions that tested the audience’s willingness to come back and participate in the live experience. Shows such as Boy Falls from the Sky and 2 Pianos 4 Hands showed audiences were ready

“They say patience is a virtue, and this has proven especially true for us,” Mirvish says. “We’ve carefully timed our reopening, at each moment willing to step back should the health and safety of our artists, staff and audiences be compromised.”

Mirvish hopes to continue its upward momentum with a blockbuster lineup for the fall 2022 season, including the continuing run of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Singin’ In The Rain, from the Chichester Festival and London’s West End, and four more productions through to January 2023.

He concludes the statement by thanking artists, staff, and, “[…] Toronto’s intrepid theatregoers. We’ve long said that Toronto has the most loyal, avid, diverse and enthusiastic audience on this continent.”

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